Posts Tagged: The Guardian

The Power of Amazon

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How much of the world has Amazon taken over? The Guardian talks with University Book Store and Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle, two independent bookstores, the former located less than a mile away from Amazon Books:

…manager Tracy Taylor pointed out that many Elliott Bay customers are in fact Amazon employees.

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Indie Presses Become Gatekeepers

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Big publishers traditionally rely on income from known authors to support taking risks on new writers. But those publishers have grown more risk-averse, avoiding unknown writers and focusing on mainstream books expected to perform well in the marketplace. Meanwhile, independent publishers are filling the shortlists of major prizes in part because they are willing to take risks with new authors.

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Poetry As Propaganda

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Oxford academic Elisabeth Kendall has found that poetry may be a major recruitment tool for militant jihadis in the Middle East. Although poetry is often sidelined in Western cultures, it is still important in Arab-speaking nations, where a reality TV show called Millions Poet gets more views than sports events:

“The language of poetry emulates the language in which the Qu’ran was revealed … jihadist publications make liberal use of poetry from the classical heritage, which they largely fail to attribute, but which listeners might find faintly familiar from oral tradition,” [Kendall] says.

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Fact, Fiction, Other

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Geoff Dyer, author of numerous nonfiction titles, discusses the increasingly blurry border between fiction and nonfiction—and more importantly, whether that distinction matters—at the Guardian:

As the did-it-really-happen? issue gives way to questions of style and form, so we are brought back to the expectations engendered by certain forms: how we expect to read certain books, how we expect them to behave.

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Writers Versus Censorship and Repression

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For the Guardian, Sian Cain reports on recent efforts from high-profile writers to push China to release Nobel Laureate and poet Liu Xiaobo from prison. According to Cain, Xiaobo was detained for “inciting subversion of state power,” and his supporters, including Margaret Atwood and Ian Rankin, hope he will be released by the seventh anniversary of his arrest.

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You’re Such a Gollum

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A man is facing two years in prison after comparing Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to the Lord of the Rings character, Gollum. However, the judge in the case isn’t sure that the comparison is really an insult:

The judge adjourned the case to February and despatched…two academics, two behavioural scientists or psychologists and an expert on cinema and television productions…to pore over Gollum’s character and decide whether it is a comparison worth jail time.

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Women Don’t Read Real Books

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Call it “Goldfinching,” after Vanity Fair’s 2014 yes-but-is-it-art interrogation as to whether Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer prize-winning, mega-bestselling book The Goldfinch is or is not literature. It’s the process by which a popular and previously well-regarded novel and, more importantly, its readers, are taken to the woodshed, usually by a critic who won’t hesitate to congratulate himself on his courage, as if dismissing popular things that women like requires some special kind of bravery—as if it doesn’t happen all day, every day.

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On Pandering—to White Women

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For the Guardian, Sian Cain investigates Marlon James’s recent series of criticisms that accuse publishers of “pandering to white women.” James, the 2015 Man Booker prize winner, has been particularly vocal about the subject on social media. In a recent Facebook post, James wrote:

“If I pandered to a cultural tone set by white women, particularly older white female critics, I would have had 10 stories published by now,” he continued.

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The Saturday Rumpus Interview: Josie Pickens

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Josie Pickens talks about building relationships through blogging, changing the narrative around black women in America, and eradicating silence through storytelling. ...more

Another Lost Work by a Dead Writer

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If it seems that “lost” books, short stories, and everything else are coming out of the woodwork, well, they are. The Strand magazine has just published Twixt Cup and Lip, an early play by William Faulkner written in the 1920s:

The Strand describes the play as “a light-hearted jazz age story.” Prohibition is under way, and the friends are enjoying an illicit drink.

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The Lessons of Mapplethorpe

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It might be ill-advised to reduce an artist’s life and work to a single observation, the magic key that unlocks everything, but in the case of Robert Mapplethorpe there is a pronounced duality—in the themes and subjects depicted in his “icy”, graphically stylized black-and-white photographs; in the dark-angel personae he cultivated; and in the controversies all of these facets wittingly or unwittingly sparked during his short lifetime.

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